Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I have been waiting for what seems like half a lifetime to have daughters I could share the Little House books with. They were a truly beloved part of my childhood; I first read the series when I was eight or so, and so began my long love affair with Laura Ingalls. I spent many years of my childhood dreaming of actually being her one day, I was so enamored with her version of life on the American frontier.
My twin girls will soon be seven, and my youngest daughter is approaching five, so I thought this summer would be high time I introduced them to Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read a chapter at a time to them, and we finished Little House in the Big Woods tonight. It didn't disappoint. It's interesting that even in this age of high technology and childhoods jam-packed with enriching, educational, and organized activities, the story of a simpler time, when little girls had corn cobs for dolls and lived in little two-room log houses, can still so enthrall modern-day children. Even my nine-year old son and fourteen-year old son often came in to listen when I was reading to the girls!
Little House in the Big Woods covers about a year in the life of a little girl named Laura, who lives with her Ma and Pa and two sisters, Mary and Baby Carrie, in a log house in the woods of Wisconsin. It describes the hard work that was required of everyone in the family in order to contribute to the family's well-being, including frank accounts of hog butchering and deer hunting - festive events in those times! - the humble manner in which they lived, the expectation that children behave (including a number of references to one child or another having his hide tanned), and the love they had for each other.
The Little House books are based on the author's early life, but the stories are admittedly embellished and certain things fictionalized to make a better story. Still, from historical accounts of Laura's actual life, apparently the books she is famous for having written (which she didn't begin writing until she was in her sixties!) do capture the essence of the life she lived in late nineteenth-century mid-west America.
I can't wait to get started on Farmer Boy with the girls!
If you haven't read these books since your own childhood, go ahead, read them again. You'll love them just as much now as you did then.